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A Quick Guide to Plantation Shutter Terminology

A Quick Guide to Plantation Shutter Terminology

As you explore your options for hardwood plantation shutters, you’ll also come across a variety of unfamiliar words and descriptions. From louvers to rails, there are certain words associated with plantation shutters that you need to know for the best installation experience. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most heard words and phrases: 


This is most likely the word that you’ll come across the most often when researching plantation shutters. The louvers are the main part of the plantation shutter. You’ll immediately recognize louvers as the movable wooden slats that run horizontally across the shutter and filter in or out sunlight to allow for the perfect ambiance. 

Louvers come in different shapes and sizes based on your own preference. At Shenandoah Shutters, you can choose from three different louver sizes. Our louvers are available in 2.5”, 3.5”, or 4.5” sizes. The middle size tends to be the most common choice for custom built plantation shutters, but you might prefer the smallest size if you also have small windows. If you have large windows, or if you just prefer the style of larger louvers, then you might choose to select the 4.5” style. The larger the louver size, the more open your view can be, as well. 

No matter what size louver you choose, your plantation shutters will be classically elegant and provide a warm atmosphere for your home. The same is true of plantation shutter shapes. There are flat and contour shape choices at Shenandoah Shutters. 

Flat louvers are exactly as they sound. They are flat on top and on bottom. A contoured louver, meanwhile, is reminiscent of an airplane’s wings. Contoured louvers start out small, widen in the middle, and then are small again. 


Rails are the long, horizontal wood pieces that can be found at the bottom and top of each plantation shutter panel. Some plantation shutters, especially double hung windows, may also have a rail in the center, or a divider rail. A divider rail gives you even more freedom for light control, as you can have your louvers set one way on top and another way on the bottom. The divider rail is also a popular choice for its added privacy benefits, as you can have your lower louvers closed for privacy while your top louvers stream in the sunny day.

Tilt Rod

The tilt rod is what allows the louvers to open and close. There are single tilt rods, hidden tilt rods, and split tilt rods

A single tilt rod is the long, visible rod in the middle of the plantation shutter that goes from the top to the bottom of the panel. It attaches each louver. A hidden tilt rod, meanwhile, is hidden behind the panels, but has the same functionality. Hidden tilt rods allow for a more modern look, while single tilt rods allow for a more traditional plantation shutter appearance. A split tilt rod is similar to the divider rail in that it also allows for independent light control of the top and bottom shutters. However, the split tilt rod doesn’t actually use a rail.   


Stiles are the vertical wood pieces that are on each side of the louvers. Stiles hold the mounted louvers with louver pins. 


A shadowbox accommodates your door handle, so that plantation shutters can be added to your French door. Since we custom build our plantation shutters, we can easily outfit your unique French door.   

Cafe Shutter

Cafe shutters are a popular shutter style, especially in kitchens and breakfast nooks. Cafe shutters have plantation shutters on the bottom and an open window at the top. You can install a valance or other fabric window treatment above the open window. This is another term that is exactly what it sounds like, with the end result looking like the windows of fine cafes. Of course, this plantation shutter style looks equally as beautiful in rooms other than the kitchen. 


A slider is a design for your sliding glass door. With a slider, you can have plantation shutters on your sliding door without sacrificing your ability to slide the door open and shut. 

Our Patented Softedge Design

Another term that we’re thrilled for you to know is Softedge, the name for our very own, patented design concept. With the Softedge, you can have your hinges discreetly hidden in a style that is similar to European cabinetry. European cabinetry doesn’t use bulky frames and maintains a clean, harmonious focus, just like our Softedge design. While this style is ideal for tilt-in and casement windows, it is also a popular choice for a variety of other window types. The Softedge is our way of adding another modern component to classically elegant plantation shutters. 

Getting to Know Shenandoah Shutters

These are just some of the most commonly used terms at Shenandoah Shutters. Your design consultant will be happy to guide you through the terminology and options to find the plantation shutter design plan that is right for your home. You can also visit our showroom and woodshop in Richmond, just a few hours or less away from our service areas. Since we’re locally owned and operated, you’ll be able to view our products and process firsthand. 

With decades of experience, our woodworkers can craft a plantation shutter for any window size or shape. We have solutions for even the most difficult installations. Give us a call or contact us online today to discuss your plantation shutter needs. We’ll set up a free, in-home design consultation and estimate. 

At Shenandoah Shutters, we use only the finest American woods to build our plantation shutters. No plastics or vinyl here. Our woods of choice are yellow poplar for cream interior shutters and basswood for stained plantation shutters, as these woods provide for a vibrant, rich color. Of course, you’re welcome to request a specialty wood, like cherry, oak, or mahogany, to match your existing furniture. We can also provide a custom color.

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Frank and Robin, Pasadena, MD

“We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the shutters! And so does everyone who has seen them! They are absolutely perfect!!! I’m so glad I bought them all at once! The installation was so professional and they were here on time, worked fast and did a wonderful job. This is really a first class company. Th arched window is just beautiful!

- Frank and Robin, Pasadena, MD

Larry & Sewel Reid

“We were so impressed with Marcia! I can’t say enough about our whole experience from Marcia. A great company to do business with. Thank you for the gift!”

- Larry & Sewel Reid

Lori Steinman

“Beautiful Shutters, Beautifully Made. I recently purchased Shenandoah Shutters for a small project to “check them out”. Shenandoah exceeded my expectations. I am so impressed with the quality and especially love the features that are unique to Shenandoah. Bravo to Shenandoah Shutters for their thoughtful designs and impeccable workmanship and to Amy for professionalism and support.”

- Lori Steinman

Candice & Peter A.

5 Star Quality & Installation!

We couldn’t be more happy with the outcome! What a transformation the shutters have made to our home, just perfect!

- Candice & Peter A.

Robert and Jean, Clifton, VA

“After installation, the installers were excellent in providing information on the shutter finish process and appropriate cleaning. This was most helpful and confirmed that these shutters are an excellent product. They are on all windows in my home and are beautiful!!”

- Robert and Jean, Clifton, VA

Donna Plummer

“The members of Shenandoah Shutters are extremely professional. The first contact came in and measured the windows that were to be done. The second contact was with the guys who installed the shutters. In and out and they look wonderful. Can’t be more pleased with these shutters.”

- Donna Plummer

Janet, Lynchburg, VA

“This company is fantastic. From the first contact we had with them (visiting their showroom) to the final installation, they are #1 professionals. After we visited the showroom, the salesperson came to our home, showed us a sample shutter, and made recommendations (and gave different styles) for our windows. After we accepted the contract, she made an appointment to come out and do exact measurements. We love our new shutters, and every element of this contract could not have been better. They even left a jar of VA peanuts!”

- Janet, Lynchburg, VA

Mila & Jimmie Baturin

“Fabulous Salesperson. Staff was efficient, organized and quick. Love the product”

- Mila & Jimmie Baturin

Julie Krajicek

“I am impressed by the level of professionalism by Shenandoah Shutters. From start to finish in all interactions, I was treated well. The product is outstanding quality. They look perfect.”

- Julie Krajicek

Doug and Carol, Chesterfield, VA

“A pleasure to work with – very organized, good communication, expert craftsmanship, done in a timely manner – a job well done!!”

- Doug and Carol, Chesterfield, VA

Jessica, Richmond, VA

“We love hearing from our clients – Here’s a review we received this week……..”My shutters were delivered and installed this morning. From start to finish the installation took about 90 minutes. I am beyond impressed with the high quality craftsmanship and over the moon with how gorgeous they are. I’d also like to note, that everyone from Marcia in sales, Jodi in billing, and the installers, whose names I didn’t catch, are supremely professional. As a Richmonder, I love that the money from my purchase stays in the local economy, too. I will be singing this company’s praises for years to come. Thank you, Shenandoah Shutters!” Jessica – Richmond, VA”

- Jessica, Richmond, VA

Lee & Cheryl Caslavka

“First Class all of the way. Amy, Jody and installation was a wonderful experience. Thank you”

- Lee & Cheryl Caslavka

Business Hours

Monday 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Tuesday 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Wednesday 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Friday 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed